How to take a one way trip to Hell

So you’re living a hellish existence thanks to a certain someone. Do you want that bully/blackmailer/cheater/evil person to vanish from your life? Then wait for midnight and maybe you’ll see Hell Girl’s Web site which takes such requests. You put in the name of the person you want taken straight to Hell and if she accepts it, Enma Ai, will soon appear before you with a straw doll tied with a red string.

Pulling the string means sealing the bargain with Ai who is Jigoku Shoujo or Hell Girl. But your request comes with a price. When you curse someone, Ai tells you two graves are dug. Then she explains her price – you will also go to Hell when you die. If you accept the deal, a mark will appear on you as a sign of the contract with Hell Girl.

The target is put through a harrowing experience and sometimes asked if they have realized what they did wrong. They never do. Ai gives a spiel and the flowers from her kimono leap from her outfit and take over your TV screen. The next scene shows the target being ferried to Hell by Ai. She’s sort of a Charon at this point. (In Greek mythology, Charon is the boatman who takes souls across the river Styx provided they have the fare.)

“Jigoku Shoujo” ended earlier this year. The series was very episodic in nature. And it’s not until midway through the show where it becomes interesting. Ai starts appearing to a little girl whose father is a reporter out to unravel the mystery of Hell Girl. There’s a reason why she does this though and it’s tied to her origin.

Ai is more than a teen who spends her days in an old house wearing a uniform waiting for requests to cart off people to Hell. There’s a granny who constantly spins and occasionally talks to her. We don’t see Granny though but we get to see a spider who hangs around the place. She also has three assistants who help her carry out the client’s request.

But not everyone who gets taken to Hell deserves such a fate. Ai sometimes hauls off a decent man or woman simply because the wrong person put in the request to the Web site.

The animation is sharp and well done, the opening song is catchy but I don’t much care for the closing song. I really liked “Jigoku Shoujo” the first time I saw it but subsequent viewings have dampened my enthusiasm. Some of the episodes dragged.

The second season started airing in Japan last month. I haven’t seen it though so I can’t say if the show has improved.

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